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Zhang receives Young Investigator Award for synthetic biology research

Fuzhong Zhang, PhD, at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a Young Investigator Award from the Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSP).

Fuzhong Zhang, PhD
Fuzhong Zhang

Zhang, assistant professor in Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, shares the three-year, $750,000 award with his collaborator, Diego Oyarzún, PhD, a junior research fellow in the Department of Mathematics at the Imperial College London. Their project was one of 10 selected for a Young Investigator award, which are given to scientists within five years of obtaining their first independent research position.

The HFSP, based in Strasbourg, France, awards grants to collaborative projects that actively involve all members of a team and allow each team member to bring his or her different expertise toward a common goal. Grants are awarded for a wide range of projects centering on complex mechanisms of living organisms, with emphasis given to cutting edge, risky projects and intercontinental collaborations.

Zhang and Oyarzún will work together to study the roles of network architecture in metabolic adaptations in fatty-acid metabolism of E. coli bacteria using dynamic modeling, synthetic biology and genome engineering.

The research builds on Zhang's expertise in applying synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. His interests include developing dynamic regulatory systems for biosynthetic pathways; engineering novel pathways to produce advanced biofuels and materials and developing synthetic biology tools for cyanobacteria.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 91 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.